ESTAMOS CONTRA EL MURO | WE ARE AGAINST THE WALL

 

In the fall of 2016, just before the presidential election, I set out to build and destroy a piñata made in the form of the proposed border wall. Curated by Michele Carlson at Southern Exposure in San Francisco, the wall changed from the opening to the closing of the exhibition. Why piñatas? I decided that if I were to build something that I didn’t believe in, it should be made of a material whose only purpose is to be destroyed. Originally an Aztec tradition commemorating the birthday of Huitzilopochtli, the piñata was coopted by Spanish colonizers as an opportunity to evangelize during the Christmas season. This seven-pointed piñata represents the seven deadly sins. The blindfold represents blind faith. Hitting the piñata is a rejection of sin and the sweets are a reward.

Initial prototypes of the piñata wall were made by Ivan Padilla Mónico in Michoacan, Mexico. To practice moving bricks, I carried these back in a suitcase that eventually I displayed in the gallery. Little Piñata Maker made a scale model of the proposed border wall proportional to the height of the presidential candidate. Ultimately, the over three hundred final piñata bricks were produced in the Bay Area by Fruitvale’s Piñatas Las Morenitas, fulfilling the rallying cry that the wall be made in the US. Unveiled September 9th, 2016 as a fresh, blank wall topped with party star garland “barbed wire” it was tagged and painted with a mural by Cece Carpio of Trust Your Struggle in the following days. Members of Young Queens on the Rise, a neighborhood youth group, were also invited to write on the wall. One young woman wrote, “mami and papi, your sacrifice does not go unnoticed.”

 

CONSTRUCTION | OPENING CEREMONY 

During gallery hours, sounds of the US Mexico border recorded by Dignicraft played in along with a migration mixtape for sale by DJ collective La Pelanga. Seven security camera piñatas filled with hot sauce packets looked on to the space. I was inspired to make the security cameras after reading a terrifying quote by a security manufacturer saying that the wall of the future would be made entirely of cameras. Halfway through the run of the exhibition, we held an artist talk on both sides of the border wall with collaborators and food by Mission tamalera Doña Lupe.

In preparation for the fall of the wall we filled five hundred eggshells with confetti to make cascarones. We nixtamalized corn to make guajolotas, a tamal-stuffed torta substantial enough to fuel a border crossing. I commissioned a cake in the shape of our border wall –also meant to be destroyed—in honor of a birthday. During the closing on October 15th it rained, squeezing hundreds of people into Southern Exposure. With Norma Listman and People’s Kitchen Collective, we passed food through a loose brick in our imagined border. Son de la Bahía played son jarocho, Poet and public theologian Marvin K. White invoked love into the wall. As is the custom, we invited the youngest members of our community to take a swing at the piñata first. One person chose to take out a few bricks with his skateboard instead of a stick. It became clear that this wall had come to represent more than the paper and wheatpaste it was made of. I had never experienced the simultaneous and collective feeling of creation and destruction in the way that I did on that day. One person turned to me at the end of the night and said, “Thanks for the practice.” Together, we turned something that was supposed to keep us apart and created something that brought us closer together. For the trust, intention, love, care, anger, joy, and creativity of every person who showed up, I am forever humbled.

 

DESTRUCTION | LA CAíDA

 
 

Additional resources

Bay Area Piñata Makers | Piñatas Las Morenitas

Podcast Episode | La Pelanga’s Migration Mixtape!

8th Grade Math Warm-Up | Corrina Hui asks students to estimate Trump’s proposed height of the wall incorporating pieces from We Are Against the Wall. She asks students what impact Trump’s proposal has on larger conversation on immigration from Mexico to the US.

 
 
 
 
 
 
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media

APEX Express, KPFA Sierra Lee of KPFA's APEX Express talks with Sita Bhaumik about her exhibition "Estamos contra el muro | We Are Against the Wall." Thursday, September 01, 2016

KQED Arts Sarah Hotchkiss visits Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik in her home studio to discuss her current exhibition at Southern Exposure. Tuesday, September 06, 2016

East Bay Express Sarah Burke of the East Bay Express visits Piñatas Las Morenitas Martínez with Sita Bhaumik to discuss her collaboration with the piñateria for her exhibition Estamos contra el muro | We Are Against the Wall. Tuesday, September 06, 2016 

El Tecolote Alexis Terrazas of El Tecolote speaks with Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik and her collaborators from Piñatas Las Morenitas Martínez, Victor Martinez and Francisco “Paco” Leon. Friday, September 23, 2016

La Pelanga DJ Pozole is joined by artist Sita Bhaumik on the podcast. She’s en La Sala to talk about her new exhibition Estamos contra el muro | We Are Against the Wall and to preview the exclusive Migration Mixtape La Pelanga produced for the show.

Mission Local Liliana Michelena speaks with Sita Bhaumik and her collaborators Víctor Martínez, Francisco León, and Isaías Rodríguez about the exhibition "Estamos contra el muro | We Are Against the Wall."  Wednesday, October 05, 2016

KALW Artist, writer, and educator Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik, whose project Estamos contra el muro | We Are Against the Wall closes on October 15, told KALW’s Sights & Sounds about three great arts events happening around the Bay this weekend. Thursday, October 13, 2016. Author: Jen Chien

KQED Arts KQED Arts videographer Kelly Whalen captures the spirit and essence of Estamos contra el muro | We Are Against the Wall, a Southern Exposure project with Sita Bhaumik in collaboration with Piñatas Las Morenitas Martínez, Little Piñata Maker, Cece Carpio (Trust Your Struggle), Iván Padilla Mónico, La Pelanga, People’s Kitchen Collective, and Norma Listman. Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Art Papers Monica Westin of Art Papers reviews Southern Exposure's collaborative project with Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik, Estamos contra el muro | We Are Against the Wall, delving into its cultural origins and political implications. Tuesday, November 01, 2016

San Francisco Chronicle Artist and creative director George McCalman illustrates the personalities of participants of Bay Area events for San Francisco Chronicle's visual column Style.  Sunday, December 18, 2016